How To Earn $1k/Month Watching Netflix

“There is a huge demand for skilled subtitlers and closed captioners and there are not enough linguists with the technical skills of subtitling for the need that there is. The job opportunities are vast.” – GoSub

Meet Sulet

  • subtitling jobsFrom South Africa.
  • Had never worked online before.
  • Took a course with GoSub to learn the ropes about subtitling, and within six months was earning $1000/month as a subtitler, working an average of 25 hours per week.
  • Focuses on English-to-English subtitling, so no translation involved.
  • Often gets to see movies and TV shows before they’re available to the public 🙂

Audio Interview

Note: this interview was recorded in May 2017.

Length: 38:34 | Download MP3

Links & Resources

Here’s a YouTube video showing EZTitles in action:

How To Get Started As A Subtitler

Sulet’s step-by-step guide…

1. Decide if this kind of work is right for you

I asked Sulet what kind of people are well suited to subtitling work and she recommended that you:

  • Have a love for languages
  • Have excellent grammar skills
  • Be patient and adaptable
  • Be self-motivated (able to stick to deadlines, etc.)
  • Have a qualification or solid experience in translation (if you want to do translation as well as transcription)

Here’s what a reader of this blog had to say about subtitling work:

“While I’d hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wasn’t definitely suited to it (as hourly earnings dip drastically if you aren’t moving at a consistent pace), it’s a convenient cash job, particularly when spending time in countries where the USD rate is good, or when dealing with an extremely irregular schedule – both of which I’ve been doing. So cheers for recommending that, it’s been a consistently reliable gig for me the last few months.” – Elliot M

2. Join GoSub And Take A Course

This is optional but Sulet found that the paid GoSub CC/SDH course saved her a lot of time and effort. If you have a bit of money to invest in training, go for it. Otherwise you’ll have to make do with free tutorials scattered around the web.

You can do the course in your own time and take as much time as you want. Sulet went all out and finished her course in only 5 days.

3. Take Advantage of GoSub’s Paid Training Assignments

The training assignments are an easy way to develop your skills and confidence and gain real experience with subtitling software, all while getting paid.

As Sulet said in the interview:

“Without that, I wouldn’t have known where to start or what to expect.”

Sulet did the paid training for about a month before moving on to find her first clients. Note that the rates for paid training do vary and are not guaranteed by GoSub, so it’s best to contact them directly to find out what they are currently.

4. Apply For Jobs

Start your search on the Netflix Preferred Vendors site.

Select your region there, visit the websites of the listed companies that subtitle your language(s), and follow their application process. You will usually be given a test to complete, and if you pass that you’ll be eligible to receive subtitling work from them.

Sulet recommends applying for multiple companies. Even if you get accepted by one, it’s usually better to work for a few at a time to ensure you have as much work as you want.

5. Communicate

Once you’re accepted by a company, be very clear on what kind of work you can do for them and what kind of work you can’t. If there’s an area you’re not that confident in but would like to improve, let them know.

6. Be Available

Many companies have a system where they notify you and other freelancers about available jobs that come in, and if you’re the first to accept a job then it’s all yours.

So be alert and available so you can respond quickly to these notifications, get a few jobs under your belt, and build your reputation with the company.

Sulet even has these notifications pop up on her phone so she can see them when she’s away from her computer. That way she can grab a few jobs she likes the sound of and have them lined up for her next work session.

7. Hustle

To start, take on every job you can, making sure of course that you can meet the deadlines.

(Missing a deadline is a cardinal sin in this kind of work. If you ever find yourself at risk of missing a deadline, let the company know as soon as possible so they can make other arrangements.)

Try to build relationships with the companies and any people you’re in contact with there. Show them that you’re committed and that you deliver good work.

Expect to be paid in the range of $1.50 per minute for your first gigs, assuming you’re only doing transcribing and not translation as well. If you are doing translation, you can expect to be paid up to 2-3 times more.

  • Want To Give Subtitling A Try?
    Consider visiting GoSub.tv, a resource Sulet found very helpful for getting started. In particular, check out their CC/SDH course (the same course Sulet enrolled in).
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About The Author

17 Comments

  1. Interesting, I’d like to make some money during my spare time, but I have taken Netflix test and havent heard from them ever since.

    1. Have you tried going through an agency? You can find them via the Netflix Preferred Vendors list linked above. If you don’t pass the test for one of them, just try another.

  2. I absolutely love this idea as I’m an avid reader and “grammar police,” but the math doesn’t seem to add up here. What am I missing?

    Sulet makes $1000/mo., working 25 hours per week. That’s $1000 for 100 hours of work, which equates to a rate of $10/hour (roughly minimum wage here in the U.s.).

    Your last paragraph says we can expect to make $1.50/minute, equating to $90/hour. Working 25 hours a week for 4 weeks/mo., I could then expect to make $9,000 per month. (Love that!)

    Is there a typo somewhere in there? Thanks,

    1. Hey Andrea. Thanks for the comment. Sulet explains in the interview that the $1.50 rate is per minute of subtitled video, not per minute of actual work performed. So in 1 hour she’d get through approximately 7 minutes of video, and get paid $1.50 x 7 for that.

      Hope that makes sense. If you can get through it faster while maintaining quality or get easier assignments (Sulet said documentaries are usually more difficult) then you can earn more.

      1. So basically, if they give you a movie that’s 100 minutes long, do they pay you $ 1.50 x 100? Sorry, I’m just a bit confused. They won’t know how long it took you to complete the work so to me it makes sense that they would pay your according to the length of that video. If it makes sense.

  3. Maryluz Mendez

    I’m really interested in have more information about prices, dates of the course, etc. I speak Spanish, English and German

    1. Hi Maryluz. Thanks for the comment. I don’t have any more information apart from what’s in the interview and on this page, but if you contact GoSub they will be happy to answer your questions.

  4. Hey Niall, I wanna really thank you and Sulet for the awesome enlightenment regarding subtitling subject. The interview was great and full of useful info and related links, which is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I was thinking lately to do online work, and as my study was in translation (Eng. – Arabic) and I really not interested anymore doing work for others and now a days I’m becoming more interested in “self-employed” status sort of speak.

    Thanks again and wish the best for all!

  5. Hello,
    How vital are these GoSub Subtitle courses in order to secure a job as a subtitler and captioner? Are these courses/certificates strong selling points? Are they good for properly learning to be a subtitler, or showing prospective Netflix vendors “proper” credentials? Can a subtitler acquire work without them? Are the free tutorials any good?
    Also, when I clicked on the “Netflix-Preferred Vendors” link, I was taken to a page with an error message “Certificate error: This site is not secure.” Does anyone else know of any other valid links to Netflix vendors?
    Thanks in advance,
    ~Anna

    1. Hey Anna,

      Thanks for the comment.

      “How vital are these GoSub Subtitle courses in order to secure a job as a subtitler and captioner? Are these courses/certificates strong selling points? Are they good for properly learning to be a subtitler, or showing prospective Netflix vendors “proper” credentials? Can a subtitler acquire work without them?”

      Those particular courses are not vital, but I would recommend taking some kind of highly rated training to better prepare you for professional work in this industry. If the GoSub courses don’t appeal to you, take a look on Udemy or Skillshare. You can also try taking some free courses or using free information online, but that’s usually not comprehensive.

      I can’t speak to the validation process of any particular vendor, but I imagine every top vendor will have a thorough vetting process for applicants. That may involve some test assignments, or they may accept certain certifications as proof that you’re qualified. I will check with GoSub about that and get back to you.

      Ultimately, I suspect you can acquire work without taking any courses, but it will likely take longer, with more trial and error.

      “Are the free tutorials any good?”

      Which free tutorials are you referring to?

      “Also, when I clicked on the “Netflix-Preferred Vendors” link, I was taken to a page with an error message “Certificate error: This site is not secure.” Does anyone else know of any other valid links to Netflix vendors?”

      Sorry about that. I’ve updated the link now. Looks like Netflix changed it recently. Thanks for the heads up.

      1. Hi Niall,
        Firstly, I appreciate both the quickness and the thoroughness of the response! And thanks for checking with GoSub whether the vendors accept certificates or do tests.
        The free tutorials I was referring to are the free courses and information that are alternatives to the more comprehensive, costly courses such as GoSub. I do realize you probably haven’t looked into them or taken them all, so you can’t vouch for them personally, but I was curious how useful they are compared to GoSub.
        Also, is Netflix the only online media platform letting people apply for subtitle/close captioning work? I looked into Amazon Prime, and at a glance they seem to have their own people and software doing subtitle/close captioning.

  6. Kelly ODonovan

    Free courses are always different to paid courses. With paid courses, you have the help of a tutor who guides you through the course and who is there to help you and answer any questions you have. GoSub is the only subtitling school that offers you paid training on completion of the course, and they also introduce and refer you to subtitling agencies as well as send you job posts and guides on where to work. They provide as much support after the course as they do during the course. Amazon is working with large subtitling agencies and they are contracting all that work out. I would suggest to apply to work directly for the larger corporations as well, instead of media platforms. I hope that helps 🙂

  7. I noticed that almost all Netflix-preferred vendors across all the regions list spoken languages. Should I only apply to the vendors that list the exact languages I know?

    1. Kelly ODonovan

      Why don’t you apply to all of the ones that interest you, even if they don’t specify your language pairs. You never know, maybe they have a request in the near future and they can reach out to you.

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